restricted access Library Mashups: Exploring New Ways to Deliver Library Data (review)
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Library Mashups: Exploring New Ways to Deliver Library Data, ed. Nicole C. Engard. Medford: Information Today, 2009. 352p. $39.50 (ISBN 978-1-57387-372-7)

A book on Web 2.0 (or are we on Web 3.0?) is tricky by definition. Will it be out of date by the time it hits Amazon and the bookstore shelves? Fortunately, Library Mashups: Exploring New Ways To Deliver Library Data should maintain currency well into the Web 4.0 era. There are 21 chapters and several appendices, and there is enough variety to interest anyone—from the novice user to the most knowledgeable technophile. The authors mostly come from academic or entrepreneurial backgrounds, and the scope is global. The editor, Nicole C. Engard, appropriately enough, has experience in both worlds.

Mashups are defined as “a web application that uses content from more than one source to create a single new service displayed in a single graphical interface.” (p. 3) The opening essays provide an introduction to mashups mainly for the benefit of the novice user. The rest of the book is full of practical ideas about how to implement them. Readers without a strong background in information science will appreciate the code intensive essays. Some of the highlights include tips on microformats, including a detailed description of how to create an innovative subject specialist page, a Yahoo map with the library’s location embedded, and an example of how to cloud tag.

For those who are interested in entrepreneurship, there are numerous examples from the private sector. Among the more interesting is the chapter on “Library Thing,” the Internet start up launched by Tim Spalding. The essay is a nuts and bolts description of the behind the scenes work of this innovative and elegantly designed Web site. As with most Web 2.0 entrepreneurs, Spalding criticizes the perceived inefficiencies of the bureaucratic stream that librarians have to navigate and does not know what he is talking about. Still, this is well worth reading.

Special praise must go to the editor for the two indispensable appendices that are included: Web sites (some of which will inevitably be out of date as one reads this) and a glossary. The book is well indexed and organized. Recommended for libraries at all levels.

Erik Sean Estep
North Carolina Reference Librarian
East Carolina University